It is horrible to die in severe pain. We can all agree on that. That’s why, when we see an animal suffering close to death, the compassionate thing is to kill it quickly with minimal pain.
Pope John Paul II had a different perspective, though:
Suffering, especially during the last moments of life, has a special place in God’s saving plan; it is in fact a sharing in Christ’s passion and a union with the redeeming sacrifice which he offered in obedience to the Father’s will. (Declaration on Euthanasia, 1980)
Behold the twisted thinking of this theist. Because an old book said Jesus suffered a excruciatingly horrible death, it is a honor and duty for us to suffer like that, too.
Because that man believed in the myths of Jesus, his common sense was overridden. Common sense tells you suffering is bad and should be avoided when possible. Common sense tells you when your dog is teetering on the edge of death, in severe pain, you do what you can to end it.
Religious sense tells you that suffering is a virtue, that it’s good because it happened to Jesus.
It’s not a very far step of logic to go from thinking that suffering is good, to inflicting suffering is good, is it? After all, that’s what the ascetic monks are famous for. They would whip themselves and do whatever they could to cause suffering to themselves, because they were sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. And it wasn’t a very far step for men of the cloth to torture people during the Inquisition, inflicting suffering on “bad people” would make them better and perhaps save their souls.
That’s all bunk. Suffering only exists because we feel pain. Small amounts of pain are natural, because it is a way the body communicates with us. But when pain turns into severe pain, we should minimize so we can be happy. To me, it’s as simple as that.
I don’t have a problem if people want to suffer. They are free to do so. Have at it. Enjoy.
But don’t take away other people’s right to die with dignity.